With the large strides made in preventative medicine, our pets are living longer and healthier lives. As our pets age, there maybe subtle changes that occur, over time, that are often dismissed but maybe important points to present to your veterinarian. There is a lot we can do to help them live a long and comfortable life.
Changes to an aging pet’s body and physiology may occur faster. For this reason, we often will begin to recommend physical exams and bloodwork be done more frequently. This allows us to monitor trends and intervene earlier. Hopefully, before clinical signs of disease become evident.
Changes in behavior or habits that are noticed at home in our senior pets can be very important things to make your veterinarian aware of. Increased thirst or urination are examples of symptoms that can be common indicators of several different diseases warranting investigation. Poor appetite and unintended weight loss are also very important indicators of a potential concern.
There maybe changes in mobility as well. Sometimes this is perceived as laziness or simply old age. Taking more time to move up or down stairs, an inability to get up on to the furniture (if allowed!), difficulty rising or laying down can all be indicators of joint disease. A large population of geriatric dogs and cats suffer from degenerative joint disease/arthritis. Their symptoms can be mild but you may start to recognize signs easily when you begin to look for them. While it’s not a reversible process there is a lot we can do to help make their golden years as comfortable and pain free as possible.
Some pet owners may notice behaviors that don’t seem to make sense or be attributable to a particular body system. Things such as vocalizing at night, new or increasing anxiety or a pet that seems to get lost in their own house can be indicators of cognitive dysfunction. Cognitive dysfunction our pets can experience is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people. Again, this is not something that is reversible but certainly worth discussing as there are things we can do to help.
Remember, age is not a disease but is certainly a reason to be even more proactive about your pets preventative care plan. It is our goal to ensure our pets live long and graceful lives.